Remove a picture background

In Microsoft Word, Microsoft PowerPoint and Microsoft Excel, you can remove a background from a picture to accent or highlight the subject of the picture or to remove distracting detail.

 Note    Background removal is not available for Vector graphic files, such as Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG), Adobe Illustrator Graphics (AI), Windows Metafile Format (WMF), and Vector Drawing File (DRW).

Purple flower with green leaf background

Original picture

Flower with background removed

Same picture with the background removed
  1. Click the picture that you want to remove the background from.
  2. Under Picture Tools, on the Format tab, in the Adjust group, click Remove Background.

Remove Background button found in the Adjust group on the Picture Tools Format tab

If you do not see Remove Background or the Picture Tools tab, make sure that you have selected a picture. You might have to double-click the picture to select it and open the Format tab.

  1. Click one of the handles on the marquee lines and then drag the line so that it contains the portion of the picture that you wish to keep, and excludes most of the areas you wish to remove.

Flower with leaves in the background

Picture showing background removal marquee lines and handles

In many cases, you can get the result you want without any additional work, by experimenting with the position and size of the marquee lines.

  1. If necessary, under Picture Tools, on the Background Removal tab, do one or both of the following:

Background removal tab

Background Removal tab
  • If parts of the picture that you want to keep were removed, click Mark Areas to Keep and use the drawing pencil Pencil used to draw tables to mark the areas on the picture that you want to keep.
  • To remove more parts of the picture, click Mark Areas to Remove and use the drawing pencil Pencil used to draw tables to mark those areas.

 Tip    If you change your mind about an area you have marked to keep or remove, click Delete Mark and then click the line.

  1. When you are done, click Keep Changes or Discard All Changes in the Close group.

You can apply an artistic effect, such as Pencil Sketch or Cement, or add picture effects such as shadows, reflections or glows, to the picture remaining after you have removed the background. For example, if keep only one flower in a picture and apply a shadow, the shadow will appear only for only the flower you kept when you removed the background.

 Note    If you are using PowerPoint, you can still save the original version of the picture, even after you have removed the background.

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Applies to:
Excel 2013, Outlook 2013, PowerPoint 2013, Project Professional 2013, Project Standard 2013, Word 2013